This is way overdue, having happened about 3 months ago, but hey. I wrote it down. Here it is.
Here at least children start school shortly after their 5th birthday. There’s no set cutoff or anything, they just enter year round more or less. So the 6th birthday party is the first birthday party with classmates. And classmates parents. Most likely these are the kids your child will travel through primary school with. Believe it or not social striations are already being formed and lines drawn. I know I wasn’t really prepared for the Machiavellian bullshit that is six-year-old girl social politics, but there it is.
Things to consider for the party:
Venue: This is the first party for a lot of people where you meet the parents. They are gonna judge you and your house. You can have it at your house, but I recommend a venue for a neutral location. Less awkward small talk too, but the get to know you opportunity is still there. Save the home party for when they turn seven. The nice things about venues is they provide activities, often have a set party length, and may provide food.
Expense: If considering a venue consider the amount of children the cost provides for, if there is food provided and so on. It’s really easy to go overboard. We got a venue that allowed for up to 20 children, but then had to provide our own food (which I think came in at about half the cost of the venue- and that’s with me making the fruit, meat/cheese and cracker platters and cakes). Another venue I attended a party at was similarly priced to the one I chose, but provided for 6-8 children and provided food.
The date: This is a difficult one because you don’t really know when other birthday parties are going to be. For instance the weekend I was having my child’s party there were FOUR birthday parties scheduled in her class. She was invited to attend two of them (not including hers) and had to make a choice. Or rather I had to make a choice. In addition you have to consider how churchy your area is and if a Sunday morning party will lack for attendees. School holidays, the weekends before and after school breaks will be busier for parties, while you aren’t as likely to get as many attendees during the holidays. If you can coordinate with other parents do so. Otherwise it’s first in best dressed. Six weeks is too early to hand out an invitation and under two weeks is cutting it close. Three-four weeks is reasonable timing to get the priority spot
Specifying rules and expectations: I put on my invitations that siblings were welcome. I wanted an inclusive party without people having to leave babies and such at home. My kids’ siblings were attending, so why not the siblings of her classmates? If you do this you may also want to specify that parents should stay. Anyone who doesn’t stay make sure you have contact information.
The invitation exchange: Kids will use friendship as a weapon and birthday party invites as barter material. If you get an invite to someone’s party (and attend), it’s kind of courteous to extend an invite to your party.
The RSVP: Expect people to not do this. Seems to be the current trend. I managed to get yes or no RSVPs for all but five out of 14 invitees. Many of them gave the yes/no to me during the school run, but, ulterior motives, I have texts from some of them as well. So now I have some of my kids’ friends’ parent’s numbers. I’m not that creepy I swear. Prepare extra food. Expect extra food. Expect some no-shows and some unexpected attendees. Mostly expect to have extra food though. Plan to have extra food. Better too much than not enough. I made up some unnamed goody bags for the people that decided to show without RSVPing and I was glad I did.
Budgeting: Venue costs will vary by location and that’s one expense, but food, goody bags and favours, plates and accoutrements, cake and so on are all other things to consider. Preparing for other birthday parties can also be quite expensive. Right now I’m maintaining a stockpile of girl and boy toys in the closet. I buy things on sale and when I make an online purchase from a place with flat rate shipping I also buy some kid toys. Then when a party comes along I just have my kid pick one out of the closet. Getting out to pick toys for a myriad of parties is a huge time expense for me.
The gift: I’m a terrible over thinker on toys. The truth is I’m not sure if kids care that much. I’m in a position where I don’t know these kids. I’m making judgements on what they like from what they have on their backpack.
Here’s what it looked like:
Rainbow themed fruit kebabs
Rainbow cone cakes with whipped cream cheese frosting. And sprinkles.
The setup and venue (a gym with trampoline and foam pit) Chips, meat, cheese, crackers and other snack platters. Also sushi.
The inside of the cake.